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New genetically-modified ‘urban’ tomatoes that ripen in compact bunches like grapes can be grown on the roofs of skyscrapers — or even in space

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Daily Mail
December 24, 2019

A genetically-modified ‘urban agriculture tomato’ plant whose fruit grow in compact bunches like grapes has been developed by researchers from the US.

Made using the CRISPR gene-editing tool, the bush is designed for compact growth — eschewing the plant’s usual long vines — and is ready for harvest in just 40 days.

Researchers hope the urban tomato will be used in cities and other places not usually suitable for plant growth — like atop skyscrapers or on cramped spacecraft.

The team hope it will help to reduce both land and fertiliser use, as well as reducing the need for long-distance transport, lowering agriculture’s carbon footprint.

According to paper author and biologist Zach Lippman of New York’s Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the new gene-edited tomato plants look nothing like the long vines you might find growing in a backyard garden or agricultural fields.’

The new plants’ most notable feature is its bunched, compact fruit, which resembles a bouquet of roses whose flowers have been replaced by ripe cherry tomatoes.

The tomatoes also mature quickly, producing edible, harvest-ready fruit in under 40 days.

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

‘They have a great small shape and size, they taste good, but of course that all depends on personal preference,’ said Professor Lippman.

‘This demonstrates how we can produce crops in new ways, without having to tear up the land as much or add excessive fertiliser that runs off into rivers and streams.’

‘Here’s a complementary approach to help feed people, locally and with a reduced carbon footprint.’

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This article was posted: Tuesday, December 24, 2019 at 5:06 am

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